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Many Options in Antioch Mayor and Council Races

Residents of Antioch may not vote for the change some are calling for, but at least they have options when the shuffling their deck around occurs with Mayor James Davis dropping down to the council race with two-current councilmembers trying to go for the mayor’s seat.

Paul Burgarino of the Contra Costa Times provided two solid overviews of both the Mayor and Council race this week that can begin the vetting process for Antioch residents.

Starting with the mayor’s race, there are four candidates vying for the top spot which will be vacated by James Davis who decided to run for city council.

According to Burgarino, the race will focus on public safety, blight and economic development, along with moving the city forward, as Antioch shows signs of starting to stabilize financially following years of sharp decline. All three political veterans pointed to their leadership skills as their reason for seeking the seat, and Leon said he shows a lot of initiative.

Let’s take a look at the four mayoral candidates shall we? Yes we shall.

Donald Freitas was mayor from 2000 to 2008 and is ready to get back into the game. He accused the city of “almost a bunker mentality” and wants to change the direction the city is headed. He also states, “Antioch is going to fundamentally change in a few years with an eight-lane highway, and yet there’s no plan to execute for the future.”

Now these are some fabulous statements and things people want to hear, but he also had his chance previously to turn Antioch around while he is partly responsible for why Antioch has become what it is today.  With that said, he still has a great shot at winning.

Now this is where it gets interesting because both Wade Harper (top vote getter in 2010) and Gary Agopian are first time councilmembers and are at the mid-term of their term as councilmembers.

I’ll be honest, I like Harper and where he is headed with the idea of focusing on crime and blight as his law enforcement background should be helpful.  I’d like to see more of how he will accomplish his goals stated publicly, but that should come in time.

Next we have Gary Agopian, who according to Burgarino, calls himself a “pragmatist” while claiming “my mantra is action versus talk”.  While I like Agopian as a person and he is a joy to speak with, the only action I’ve seen out of Agopian has been his lips moving and fingers typing on the Take Back Antioch Facebook Group.

Finally, we have Michael Leon who I absolutely love his ideas on improving city communications and creating a brand while removing bureaucratic hurdles on business, however, jumping into the Mayor’s race with no political background is too big of a jump and should have gone for a city council seat first. He may be a player in the future, but not this year.

Mayor’s Race Rankings

  1. Harper
  2. Freitas
  3. Agopian
  4. Leon

City Council Overview

With the mayor’s race out of the way, let’s move onto the city council race shall we? Yes we shall.

To put it bluntly, I really do not see how Mary Rocha can lose her seat. She is a wonderful lady and does so much within the community while working with the youth that she is a lock.

Burgarino provided a nice quote which speaks volumes about Rocha (and the rest of the council) that she spent so much time trying to save the city and keeping the doors to open. With that out of the way, she can get back to her task at hand.

Jim Davis running for council sure threw a lot of folks for a loop, but he is 100% right when he says his vote on council counts just as much as the mayors while being able to be “more of a driver” on issues. While some will blame him for the city’s near bankruptcy—revenue declined from $47 to 35 million—it can’t fully be blamed on him, but his predecessor had a partial role in that. I actually like the Mayor, but believe he is better suited to be on council as opposed to the face of Antioch.

The next three candidates need a lot of help if they want to knock Davis out of the number two spot.

Walter Ruehlig is leaving the School Board for a shot at council which I believe is a mistake. He lost me within the article by stating public safety and bringing back officers basically won’t happen until budget conditions improve—to me, while true, that’s a defeatist attitude and I want to back people who will find room in the budget or simply find a way to make it happen.  He has some good ideas, but does not have enough bite to make it happen.

Noel Pinto is an interesting candidate. I sat down with him a month or so ago after he announced to learn more about him.  He is all about doing the right things for Antioch with lots of ideas which Burgarino points out, but he is unknown. I want to cheer for him; however, he has very little experience in the political word and it shows. He could be a player if he invests time over the next two years getting his name out there to the residents of Antioch and making the proper connections.

Finally, we have Monica Wilson who I’ve come to know over the last year. She is a great lady and has a lot of positives to her. She should get a lot of support, but it will be tough to compete with the name recognition of Rocha and Davis which is where a 2-seat election hurts her.  With that said, I couldn’t agree with her more when she says “I am tired of hearing the city doesn’t have any money” and she is looking to fix that by finding money—I dig that! She is also promoting community pride which is something many speak about, but she actually has done it.

City Council Rankings

  1. Rocha
  2. Davis
  3. Wilson
  4. Ruehlig
  5. Pinto

CC Times Articles

http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_21385303/public-safety-moving-city-forward-focus-antioch-mayoral?IADID=Search-www.contracostatimes.com-www.contracostatimes.com

http://www.contracostatimes.com/antioch/ci_21428114/crowded-field-antioch-city-council-race

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10 Responses »

  1. I read Pauls stuff earlier this week and wish he would have asked for more specifics but I can understand it was an overview of each race. I think your assessment is spot on in terms of rankings and I certainly have a lot to think about before November but I’d flip Ruelig and Wilson. I am not an Agopian fan so he is not getting my support. You seem to like Wilson, but I do not even know much about her, same goes for Pinto. For Mayor, I am torn between Harper and Freitas and need to see more specifics out of both of them.

    As a resident of Antioch, we need change, but we are not going to get it in this election, beautiful how you put it as reshuffling the council.

  2. I am voting for anyone who is not curretly on the council, this City has been stuck in glue and has done nothing to advance itself. Time for new blood.

  3. Same Burk slant. Political motivation at its finest.

    • Harper is backed by Seeno and Glover so immediately he is out. Agopian in all talk. Davis and Rocha need to be gone. Wilson really has nothing to offer especially since she Wade and Rocha are thick as thieves. Pinto definitely has the back ground and many years of experience. I’d vote for Pinto and probably no one else.

  4. Same Jill shooting herself in the foot (and then reloading). Koolaid drinking at its best…..

  5. I think Antioch should just open a phone book and pick 5 random people to run the City. I understand bankrupcy was a big deal a few years back, but where are the accomplishments of this council? What have they done for the residents?

  6. As someone who is very involved in the community, and attends the City Council meetings. I think Gary Agopian has been asset to our city council. My issue is litter when I’ve called the city about public dumping and they just ingnore my calls. Gary Agopian has stepped in and helped me get things done. Everytime I’ve sent him an email he responds. Gary Agopian has been available to help the community. Wade Harper is a very nice man. But he is not available. His expertise in law enforcement will still be helpful to us if he stays seated on the city council. Gary Agopian being in Real Estate puts him in all the neighborhoods so he can see for himself what needs to be done. I disagree with your assessment of what he has acomplished during his term as a city council member. I’ve seen him get alot done. I personally worked with him on the shopping cart problem. The city informed all the stores that they need to use the cart retrieval service. While the shopping carts are still a problem, it was worse a year ago. The fact that Gary Agopian comments on the Take Back Antioch fb page is good thing. All of the city government should pay attention to that page. It’s just another way to communicate with the residents. I just hope people make an educated vote. Don’t just vote for the person with the most signs. I have a coffee date with Monica Wilson on Monday to discuss her views. I will be asking her what her goals are for our city. Get involved people, then vote.

  7. That is great Agopian can type on a computer and answer your phone calls. But what has he done? To be honest, I am not a fan of any of the mayor candidates, but you did not make the case of what Agopian has accomplished.

    Going to go for Leon who hasn’t been in office. Same goes for Pinto and Wilson. I think Burk is giving to much credit to those currently on the council. Antioch needs change and now is the right time!

    • Agopian and Harper have really done nothing. They are yes men, they are no men, can’t do it , don’t have the money. I have neighbors who have gone out week after week and picked up grocery carts. Paint graffiti. Agopian takes credit for single handedly taking on the graffiti problem. That it not the truth at all. Harper says he has lots of ideas. Why hasn’t he put some of those ideas out the last 2 years? We certainly could have used them. No, neither of these me are ready to be mayor and shouldn’t be council members.

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